Local Government and Politics, News

Nahant Town Meeting was moved up to Aug. 27 after 245 residents signed petition requesting it be held sooner

NAHANT — Voters will take up a wetlands bylaw change and two housekeeping articles at a Special Town Meeting in less than two weeks.

The Special Town Meeting was originally set for Sept. 17, but it was moved up to Aug. 27 when 245 residents signed a citizens petition requesting it be held sooner.

“We tried to work out a Sept. 17 Town Meeting with the Town Clerk,” said Chesley Taylor, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, at a meeting last week.

The Sept. 17 Town Meeting was called at a Board of Selectmen meeting on July 10.

“Two days later, a petition came in that basically took this meeting right out of the selectmen’s hands,” said Taylor.

The petition, he said, demanded the meeting be held sooner, on Aug. 27. Town Clerk Peggy Barile originally declined to provide a copy of the petition. The Item obtained the documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that required Barile to provide the public documents within 10 days.

The petition, drafted by resident Michelle Capano, requests that the Board of Selectmen hold the Special Town Meeting “no later than Aug. 31, 2018 or within 45 days of receipt of this petition,” which was on July 13, according to a stamp on the documents.

Selectmen are tasked with the responsibility of calling a Special Town Meeting, but are required to do so if either 200 voters, or 20 percent of the total number of voters, whichever is less, request the meeting, according to a citizen’s guide to town meetings on the Secretary of State’s website.

A Special Town Meeting must be called within 45 days of the board’s vote and the warrant must be made available to residents at least two weeks before the meeting.

According to the meeting’s warrant, which was also obtained through a FOIA request, “the purpose of this by-law is to protect the wetlands, water resources, and adjoining land areas in Nahant.”

The proposed bylaw would prohibit residents from “removing, filling, dredging, building upon, degrading, discharging into, or otherwise altering” any freshwater or coastal wetlands, marshes, wet meadows, bogs, swamps, vernal pools, banks, reservoirs, lakes, ponds of any size, rivers, streams, creeks, beaches, dunes, estuaries, the ocean, lands under water bodies, lands subject to flooding or inundation by groundwater or surface water, lands subject to tidal action, coastal storm flowage or flooding, and lands within 100 feet of above cited resource areas.

The only way work could be done on these areas would be by obtaining a permit from the Conservation Commission. The only option for appealing a Conservation Commission decision would be a review in Superior Court.

Registered voters will also be tasked with authorizing payment of the prior Fiscal Year bills and deciding whether a 235-square-foot plot of land owned by the town at the northwest end of Bay View Avenue will be sold.

Nahant has an open Town Meeting, meaning any registered voter who lives in town can take a vote.

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